When it comes to which caravan towing accessories are needed for safe caravan towing, there are 5 essential components you need to consider. From quick release coupling to braking systems, they help to ensure your caravan is securely attached, evenly weighted, tracking straight and able brake at a moment's notice.
1. Quick release coupling
A quick release coupling is particularly important so you can have fast and easy access to attach and detach your caravan from your car’s towball. This is vital for both a safe set-up and in an emergency situation that requires quick release of your caravan.
Caravans below 3.5 tonnes Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) need quick release coupling that can be engaged and disengaged by hand, and a positive locking type that is verifiable by visual inspection.
A caravan’s ATM is the total mass of a full-laden caravan, specified by the manufacturer, and should not be exceeded. The coupling should slip easily and securely onto your vehicle’s tow-ball. It will also be marked with it’s load capacity that should not be exceeded.
2. Safety chains
Safety chains are also required to link your caravan to your tow vehicle in the event the coupling fails or disconnects.
Caravans with an ATM of up to 2.5 tonnes are legally required to have one safety chain attached. Caravans with an ATM over 2.5 tonnes need 2 safety chains, with a 3500kg rating, that comply with all Australian safety and design standards. Caravan’s over 3.5 tonnes need chains made of a specific ‘R grade’ chain that can withstand more than the caravan’s ATM.
Chains need to be permanently attached and located as close to the coupling as possible. They also need to be long enough to allow for normal articulation, but short enough so the caravan’s nose doesn’t dip and hit the ground.
In addition to this caravan towing accessories requirement, a strong safety chain shackle is also essential. This attaches the safety chains to the tow vehicle and needs to be load rated and up for the job. Many aren’t marked with their load capacity, so make sure you look out for a load rating so it’s clear what weight it can tow.
3. Braking systems
Caravans below 2 tonnes, need to have brakes operating on the wheels of at least one axle. Caravans over 2 tonnes must also be fitted with a caravan breakaway system, or independent brakes, in the event your caravan breaks away from your vehicle.
All modern caravans should also be fitted with electronic stability control for emergency braking situations. Caravans are often subject to sideways movements due to high winds and unpredictable weather conditions, with the potential to go into a sway sequence and overbalance both your caravan and vehicle.
Electronic stability control will detect sideways caravan sway or sudden swerves and reduce the speed of your car and caravan; brakes will be electronically applied and help to bring the caravan back in line. Before you start driving ensure you braking system is fully calibrated and customised to your caravan’s specifications.
4. Weight distribution hitch
A weight distribution hitch helps reduce the sway of your caravan when moving. It attaches to your caravan’s coupling and transfers weight from your tow-vehicle’s rear axle to its front axle and caravan trailer axles. It also helps ease the weight of your caravan and makes steering and braking easier.
Without a weight distribution system there is more potential for trailer sway, plus reduced steering and braking responsiveness. Additional swaying on the road can also lead to reduced fuel efficiency and uneven wearing on your tyres. Given this, weight distribution systems have become an essential item for caravan towing on the road
5. ‘Do not overtake’ sign
Tow vehicle-caravan combos longer than 7.5 metres must have a ‘do not overtake turning vehicle’ sign attached to the rear of the caravan and vehicle. With this sign you can legally straddle lanes to turn left or right at intersections. It also means motorists from behind must must ensure they do not overtake to merge, unless there is enough clearance. Tow vehicle and caravan combinations under 7.5m must not use this sign, and must turn in the marked lanes, like other standard vehicles, at all times.
The right caravan towing accessories are a must
As you can see, these caravan towing accessories are essential items in your caravan tow set-up. So, make sure you have them before you start your tow adventure. Without them you’ll compromise the strength and stability of your tow set-up and won’t legally be allowed to take your caravan on the road. Having them all in place, however, will be a different story. You can drive to your destination, knowing that your rig is secure and that towing will be smooth and safe.
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